There is so much dialogue about the need for education to evolve. From TED talks, to twitter chats, youtube videos to HuffPost articles -it’s literally everywhere; in popular literature, academic literature, on the news, in the media, in politics and of course in schools. But for all we talk about it, the question has to be asked – are we actually evolving education? And if we’re not, why not? If we are, are we doing enough?
This year I realised I’d done enough thinking, and I really needed to start doing. So I did (don’t worry it wasn’t thoughtless change – I kept thinking too). And the place I started was with our own New Zealand Curriculum. This document is amazing. It has already laid out a map for our learning evolution, now we just have to be brave enough to follow it.
In the front of the curriculum (page 7 to be exact) is this diagram entitled ‘directions for learning’ (see I told you – map!). What I love about this image is the way it organises learning. At teachers’ college I was taught to always start with the achievement objectives, but if you look here, you’ll see that they form only a very small part of a whole. Through this diagram, the New Zealand Curriculum advocates a a three-way approach – values, key competencies and learning areas. These are guided by the curriculum’s vision and underpinned by the curriculum’s values. All these parts together make up the whole of education.
Of course all of these bits are equally important, but I want to focus today on the values.
This term the teachers in our syndicate have been working with groups of students on wicked problems, using design thinking to tackle these. As our students work on these they have been noticing and commenting on the learning dispositions (key competencies) they have been using as part of the process. These dispositions will then help them in creating CVs, portfolios and learning paths later in the term as part of our Future Selves topic. But the really interesting bit (today at least), is the way they students are using the values of the curriculum as a focusing lens for their ideation and investigation.
The NZC explores seven principles, and has an eighth overarching idea, which are explained like so:
“Students will be encouraged to value:
- Excellence, by aiming high and by persevering in the face of difficulties;
- Innovation, inquiry and curiosity, by thinking critically, creatively, and reflectively;
- Diversity, as found in our different cultures, languages, and heritages;
- Equity, through fairness and social justices;
- Community and participation for the common good;
- Ecological Sustainability, which includes care for the environment;
- Integrity, which involves being honest, responsible, and accountable and acting ethically;
and respect of themselves, others, and human rights.”
(New Zealand Curriculum, 2007, p. 12)
- Personal responsibility
- Lifelong learning
- Creative and innovative thinking
- Positive relationships
- Collective achievement
- How might humanitarian organisations use social media in innovative ways?
- How could social media be used to develop a culture of excellence in human rights reporting?
- How might personal ethics be supported through social media?
- How might improving our ecological sustainability (environmental practices) reduce breaches of human rights?
- How might it benefit refugees if we apply the principle of equity, rather than equality?
- How can social media bring communities together to support human rights?
- How does diversity impact on human rights?
And then we’ll go from there – where exactly we’re still figuring out.
See the thing I realised last term, is that it isn’t ever going to happen if you wait until you the end destination to set out. You actually just have to start and trust that the road will guide you, a sentiment Tolkien captured perfectly.
“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”
So wither I’ll end up? I do not know, but the journey so far, though just begun, has been most marvelous indeed.